|BY THE TIME YOU READ THIS it will have been ten weeks and some days since Berwick-on-Tweed farmer Fiona Skeen had her BT landline number ‘stolen’. Yet despite assurances from BT, The Clarion’s complaint to telecoms regulator Ofcom and our appeal for help from Berwick’s MP, NOTHING has happened to remedy the situation.
The scandalous mistreatment suffered by the farmer/businesswoman who, with her son, Graham, farms Berryhill near Etal, a dozen miles from Berwick upon Tweed, is symptomatic of the frequent battles The Clarion has had with the privatised British telecommunications industry.
Fiona has had her 50-year-old BT landline number ‘stolen’ without her consent. . .not once, but TWICE!
For the full, almost unbelievable story so far, CLICK HERE http://www.voiceofthenorth.net/ofcom-trail-fionas-stolen-bt-phone-number/.
The Clarion complained to Ofcom on Fiona’s behalf. Ofcom willingly undertook to investigate. On April 23, Ofcom’s Communications Manager, Harry Rippon, reported back:
“Thank you for the update about the latest development in this situation. We understand how frustrating this must be and we are pressing BT for a solution.
“We contacted BT at the beginning of April, which was acknowledged by them immediately. BT then gave us an update on 11 April, saying they were talking to Club Communications and trying to get the number back.
“We have now raised the issue [of] the temporary number with BT and have requested an update on the situation from them by Friday 26th, so I will be back in touch by the end of the week to let you know what’s happening.
“Please feel free to drop me a line in the meantime if you need any further information.”
The MP for Berwick and a regular subscriber to The Clarion, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, is also working on the case having followed with dismay the lack of progress. On Good Friday, April 19, she wrote: “This is very unimpressive, Dave. I will ensure we follow this up next week.”
Meanwhile, Fiona Skeen was also getting phone calls: the first, on April 20th, was from BT’s emergency team and Fiona excitedly reported: “For the first time I was assured that I would get my original number back after I mentioned that you had again contacted Ofcom, on my behalf, and copied the story to our local MP!
“I await developments but my patience is running out.”
Not surprising, really, when you consider how Fiona has been messed about. Particularly when she received a second call from BT on April 23rd. She reported:
“BT say they have asked Openreach to get my number back but instead Openreach gave me yet ANOTHER new number, my THIRD!
“BT say they are still trying to contact somebody ‘meaningful’ at Club Communications but in the meantime have put in a request [to Openreach] to at least get the first temporary number back, as I have given it to quite a few people.
“I am told Openreach will not restore the original landline number until Club Communications surrender it but no one seems to know who they are or how to get hold of anyone in authority there!”
Openreach, was split from the BT conglomerate in 2006 by arrangement with Ofcom in an attempt to give private telecoms companies the same service access as was previously enjoyed by the BT monopoly.
Ofcom is responsible for the copper wires and fibre that connect homes and businesses to local telephone exchanges. Its customers are more than 580 communications providers who sell telephone, internet, data and TV services to millions of households and businesses
But in Fiona’s view what is provided is a shambles. . . watch this space.